Analysis: How will Hearts replace Kyle Lafferty?

With Hearts' main striker Kyle Lafferty on the brink of a move to Rangers, we take a look at what options there for Hearts boss Craig Levein to fill his sizeable shoes in attack ...

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 22nd August 2018, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd August 2018, 4:09 pm

Sign David Vanecek before transfer window closes

Hearts have agreed a pre-contract with FK Teplice striker David Vanecek. The 27-year-old Czech is due to join up with his future Tynecastle team-mates in January, but Hearts may accelerate his arrival if they can agree a fee with his club. Vanecek is 6ft 4ins and has a similar style to Lafferty. Did Hearts go for Vanecek with a potential Lafferty sale in mind? Only time will tell...

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Kyle Lafferty looks close to agreeing a return to Ibrox - but how do Hearts go about replacing him? Picture: SNS Group

Play Uche Ikpeazu as the main striker

Uche Ikpeazu has made a positive impact at Hearts since his unheralded arrival from Cambridge United over the summer. He has scored three goals already this term and his aggressive, fearless attitude has won over the bulk of the Hearts support. The question Levein must ponder now is whether it’s just a tad too early to make the hulking 23-year-old his main man in attack, or continue to drip-feed him into the Scottish game alongside more experienced, senior players.

Move Steven Naismith further forward

Norwich loanee Steven Naismith certainly has the nous and experience to be Hearts’ No.1 striker, but it appears that the Scotland international does his best work these days in a more withdrawn role. Levein has used Naismith in midfield, as a winger or just behind the striker this term and perhaps his qualities are best suited there.

Give more prominence to MacLean

Steven MacLean, at the age of 36, was brought in over the summer from St Johnstone by Levein as a support striker, someone who would play when needed and offer another approach depending on the opponents and how a match was progressing. His Hearts career has started well – he’s even playing on artificial pitches these days – but will Levein see him as his talisman in the final third?

Give youth its chance

Aidan Keena is Hearts’ most prolific striker at youth level and has impressed Levein whenever called upon. The player himself spoke last week about how he would like to fill Lafferty’s shoes in case of a departure. However, at just 19 years of age and with limited senior experience, it would be something of a gamble to lay faith in a teeanger in what is a massive season for the club.

Sign another striker

Hearts will pocket a six-figure fee for Lafferty. The question is, do they spend it on Vanecek (see above) or do they go into the market for another striker, be it a six-month/season-long loan or a permanent deal. Levein likes to play with a strong focal point in attack, so looking in England or further afield for the bespoke frontman may be a route the manager chooses to go down.